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Body Contouring

Liposuction or Thigh Lift: A One-Two Punch For Sculpted Thighs

Woman measuring thighs after liposuction and thigh lift
Woman measuring thighs after liposuction and thigh lift

You’ve committed to a healthy diet, you regularly hit up the gym—and let’s face it, you look great. But those lean, sculpted thighs that you’ve longed for have somehow continued to evade you. *Sigh—Genetics. There’s not much you can do about that. In truth, when it comes to your thighs, genetics can make it nearly impossible to get the shape you want. But there are plastic surgery options for sculpting leg fat, and we’re gonna talk about ‘em right here. Let’s go.


Not exactly a new answer, liposuction has evolved into what might be the best answer for areas that resist exercise and a healthy diet. A liposuction procedure can sculpt saddlebags, or reduce thighs that are thicker than you necessarily want them to be, all in a less invasive way than a thigh lift surgery. It’s a great solution to contouring specific areas of the body by removing excess, localized fat deposits.

Your surgeon will make a small incision into the thigh area, insert a cannula (a tiny tube), and then suction out the small pockets of offending excess fat.

Easy, right? Sort of. You’ll have to find the right doctor first. And trust that choosing a liposuction surgeon with a skilled hand, a critical eye, and who’s aesthetically on the same page as you is as essential to a successful result as the procedure is itself.

Board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Law advises why, ”Post-liposuction contour irregularities can be severe if the plastic surgeon is not skilled at and experienced with the treatment of this particular area.”

For example—and, yes, we’re going to momentarily veer into the controversial realm of “thigh gap” here—Law believes in a conservative approach when removing fat from the the upper and medial thighs. “A small amount of space between the upper inner thighs is aesthetically ideal,” he says. “But a wide space between the upper inner thighs looks post-surgical, unhealthy, and unnatural." Ew. “Post-surgical, unhealthy, and unnatural”—not exactly the results we’re pining for, eh?

You’ll find that oversharing your expectations with your surgeon and taking a fine tooth comb to the “before and after” images of his/her previous patients, will be helpful in ensuring that you and your doctor share a similar aesthetic vision. And then, of course, you’ll adhere to each and every pre-and post-surgical instruction that he or she provides.

But what if that’s not enough to sculpt your legs into the shape you want?

You: What?! Liposuction isn’t always a one-and-done proposition?!
Us: No. Not always. Sorry.

Thigh Lift:

Some patients find that liposuction—while an ideal solution for many—is not the single ideal solution for them. Patients whose skin has lost elasticity in the thigh area due to age, significant weight loss and or pregnancy may need to consider the one-two combo of liposuction and a thigh lift surgery two to three months later.

A teeny-tiny percentage of patients undergoing a thigh lift surgery don’t have any excess fat in the thigh area and can forgo the liposuction procedure beforehand, but—before you get all excited—most do.

Since liposuction doesn’t address skin laxity (loose and/or excess skin), and a thigh lift doesn’t address all the excess fat, neither can be considered a single magic bullet for one-and-done thigh sculpting. (And don’t get us started on the conundrum that is cellulite).

"Procedure selection really boils down to the nature of one’s skin in the treatment areas,” Dr. Law says. “Youthful elastic skin will tolerate a significant amount of fat removal by liposuction without resulting in unfavorable skin laxity. As degrees of skin laxity increase, the amount of liposuction that can be performed decreases, and with significant degrees of skin laxity, liposuction alone is not a good option.”

So what is? Well, your surgeon may advise a lateral thigh lift to improve upon skin laxity in the saddlebag area. Or they may advise a medial thigh lift can address skin laxity in the upper medial thigh. Your surgeon may also advise extending a lateral thigh lift across the posterior midline to lift the buttocks as well. The only way to know what thigh-sculpting solution will work for you is to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon.

"There is no substitute for experience and expertise in the process of determining whether a patient should undergo liposuction versus thigh lift surgery, or a combination of the two as a single procedure or as staged procedures,” says Dr. Law… and his word, as you know… is law. (#sorrynotsorry)


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